We the students, faculty and workers of UC Irvine will gather on May 4th, 2010 to participate in a mock funeral in commemoration of the death of public education. The desire for the free and equitable cultivation of thought which spurred the creation of the University of California has been smothered, due in part to privatization and the increasing lack of availability of an excellent UC education.
The authors of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education stated:
“this notion [raising tuition] is, of course, an incomprehensible repudiation of the whole philosophy of a successful democracy premised upon an educated citizenry. It negates the whole concept of wide-spread educational opportunity made possible by the state university idea. It conceives college training as a personal investment for profit instead of a social investment” (p 173).
As fees increase and the quality of a UC education does not, less of us can afford to attend California’s great public schools or hope to have our children educated there. It is our intent to draw a line in the sand and defend public education as we believe it should exist. We believe that public education should be accessible and equitable. We believe that the learning environment should be free of racism, discrimination, oppression, and marginalization. We believe in free and equal speech on university campuses. We believe in a future free from cyclical debt. We believe that the environment created by encroaching private interests is not conducive to free thought or education. We reject the notion that our university exists as a means of perpetuating exploitation in society. We reject the notion that our university exists solely as a means for socioeconomic advancement. We believe in education for the improvement of self and society. We believe in knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and in its practice for the public’s sake.
In the spirit of the Master Plan, therefore, and in accordance with our beliefs we will mourn the future of public education on May 4. This date is significant for several reasons. May 4, 2010 will be the thirty-year anniversary of the Kent State massacre, when four unarmed students were killed and nine injured by Ohio National Guardsmen as they protested the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. This date also falls near the thirty-year anniversary of the Jackson State killings. On May 14, 1970 two student protesters were killed and twelve injured by city and state police at Jackson State College.
As we mourn the deaths of these students and the dimming of the future of education we will protest in kind. We will let our voices ring in the halls of our campus, and to the question “whose university?” we will answer “our university!”
The concerned students, faculty and workers of UC Irvine.